“I like bars. Bars are honest places…”-Spider Jerusalem
You read about the honesty of bars in a comic book, joking that if a comic book said it, then it must be true. Once, you were told alcohol was the ultimate truth-serum. Of course, you’ve been aware of many a lie told after the imbibement of a cocktail or two, and more than one falsehood told within the walls of a bar. Thus, it is shown that all statements of wisdom, from the trivial to the profound, have a loophole of imperfection.
Normally, after stocking up, you would disappear back into the desert for another few weeks. The years have taught you the virtue of solitude. You tried being around people afterward. Lawrence and Martha insisted it would help you heal. But, like the scars upon your flesh, some things remain long, long after the initial wounding. And some things never seem to go away.
So, with all the money you had, you shot yourself out as far as you could conceive without leaving the continent or planet, although, sometimes you wonder about the planet bit. You wanted to start again. You wanted to cease to exist. Be someone or something else, even if what you’ve become is just the wraith of a man named Geoffrey Ryddle.
The nightmares, the memories, that fucking box drive you back for a beer or three. The one thing you didn’t get when you stocked up was alcohol, but you’re not sure if that was on purpose. Perhaps drinking out there, all alone, in the desert, would be disastrous.
Maybe in some secret place within your psyche, you know it might not be wrong to go get a drink at the roadhouse, down by the general store. The company of people you see any time you come around, but rarely speak to, while anonymously sipping a few beers and making a half-assed attempt to keep to yourself.
Rosie doesn’t ask you many questions; just what you’re drinking and if you’re paying as you go or running a tab. You notice how she sometimes eyes you suspiciously. Above the bar is a list of names under the No Drinks, No Tabs! list, many of which are native and Hispanic names. You’re neither, but your skin is much darker than most of people in the roadhouse, which gets you to consider Rosie doesn’t trust anyone who isn’t Caucasian.
You sip your beer and half read the local paper while half looking around the bar. A baseball game from back in the world plays on the television. Once, you really liked baseball. Once, you owned a television. Perhaps even more than one. That was all a very long time ago.
You attempt to watch the game and realize it holds no interest for you. There may have been a time when this would’ve concerned you; a fear of something having died inside. Now, you just shrug. You’ve changed. One of those changes is the fact you’ve gotten far closer to death than you ever meant to any time before you got old and gray. Nowadays, you feel that old and gray despite still being so many years away from that yet.
With your attention somewhat diverted, you almost don’t notice a hand grabbing your beer bottle. Your head whips around, face curled into a snarl; being covered in scars, big, and black, you know you can look scary sometimes. Especially, in a place where you’re the only one of your skin tone for millions of miles in every direction. Never mind the fact you’ve only hit one person in your entire life and it ended badly.
“I’ll have what he’s having!” Shara Little Feather calls over to Rosie. She’s smirking playfully at you, her liquid mercury eyes almost glowing in the low light of the roadhouse. “Nice to see you, Ryddle.”
It takes you a moment to recognize her. Instead of the gypsy drag you’re so used to seeing her in, she’s dressed in a flannel shirt, black tank-top, jeans, and sandals. It doesn’t make her any less alluring. Perhaps more attractive. You feel a particular stirring within you that you’re normally able to better restrain. It causes you to shift awkwardly within your seat.
“Nice to be seen,” you quip. “I guess I’ll be buying you that beer.”
“I guess,” she says. “And we can talk a little more. Have you eaten?”
“I wasn’t hungry,” it’s an obvious lie and it doesn’t take a mind-reader to figure that out.
“I’ll get us a pizza and you can have a slice when your appetite appears,” Shara teases.
“Some people don’t get food for those who aren’t hungry.” you say.
“Some people would dive into an inferno to get a better look at the flames,” she retorts.
A chill passes through you at that statement. You don’t really believe Shara Little Feather can read minds anymore than you believe she can see the future. She’s just rather observant. You go to her for the card readings that never come to fruition more for the company and conversation than any hope of mystical insight. The fact she’s willing to share a pizza with you shows she might like your company as well. At least that’s your observation.
Pizza and a few beers later and you two are standing out by your truck. The things you talked about had nothing to do with divulging your secrets, much to your relief. Instead, there’s tales of local gossip and stories of wandering out in the desert. Jokes and observations of the other roadhouse patrons. Over the course of the evening, you’ve noticed how close both of you have inched to one another. Her scent of cinnamon and places more far-flung than this is inviting. You could spend centuries in that scent.
“We must do this again, Ryddle,” she’s saying, leaning in close. “It’s just slightly more enjoyable than arguing with you when you try to get a reading.”
“I want to kiss you,” you didn’t mean to say that.
Upon the utterance of the words, you wish they’d crawl back in your mouth and die. It was improper. You feel like an ass. Shara looks at you with a seriousness that startles you.
“Okay then, get to it,” she says.
You wondered, and now you get to know, what her tongue tastes like. She makes no effort to stop you, drawing you in closer. When you do pull back, expression on her face is both inviting and reassuring.
“You’ve wanted to do that for awhile,” she says. “You don’t have to be a fortuneteller to know that.”
“I figured you’d tell me it wouldn’t be a good future,” you snort, an attempt to play off the awkwardness you catch yourself feeling.
“Silly!” Shara giggles. “There is no future! There are only possibilities. That’s what I do; I point out the possibilities I see with the factors at hand.”
“I think can live with that,” you say with a shrug as you lean into her receptive embrace to kiss her once more. There is a new possibility you find yourself wanting to explore.